This non-US spec BMW 323i ahead of me in traffic made some wonderful music through its dual exhausts as the driver blipped the throttle a few times, and then when it took off, rather abruptly. It reminded me of just how badly deprived Americans were of what was arguably the hottest and finest small sporty sedan of its time.
BMW was a source of considerable frustration and disappointment in the late 70s and early 80s for American enthusiasts. While 3-series aficionados were stuck with only lo-po four cylinder engines all the way to 1984, when the first and only six in the E30 that was offered us was the low-rev “Eta” six in the 325e. Meanwhile, the rest of the world was reveling in the silky new M20 six cylinder already as of 1977. And the bigger of the two, the 323i, was the hot small sedan of the times, with its 143 hp and 120 mph top speed. Arghh! It’s the reason why I didn’t consider the 101 hp 320i in 1983, when I bought a T-Bird Turbo Coupe instead. If the 323i had been available, it would have been mine.
Americans love power, and the original BMW 2002 was specifically created for power-hungry Americans. Not until ten years later, in 1987, would the 325i/325iS finally have a proper BMW six.